No. 18 Indiana upsets No. 5 Michigan St. 70-55

Draymond Green tried to clinch the Big Ten title by himself
Tuesday night.

He needed more help.

Cody Zeller scored 18 points, Victor Oladipo had 13 and
Christian Watford finished with 10 points and a career-high 14
rebounds, leading No. 18 Indiana past No. 5 Michigan State 70-55,
the Hoosiers’ third win this season over a top five team.

”We just didn’t defend well and that’s something that has been
a mark of this team all year, and that’s why we’ve had so much
success,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. ”And that’s the reason we
didn’t have success tonight because we didn’t do it.”

Green scored 29 points, including 16 straight during one stretch
of about 12 minutes, and grabbed eight rebounds.

But none of his teammates scored more than eight points, and the
lack of help doomed Michigan State’s hopes of clinching a second
outright Big Ten title in four seasons.

Instead, Michigan State (24-6, 13-4) lost for the first time in
eight games, and the Spartans’ school-record six-game winning
streak over the Hoosiers ended.

Green and Austin Thornton can still become the first players in
school history to win two unshared Big Ten crowns if the Spartans
can beat No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday.

And the worst part, for Izzo, was watching his team get beat at
its own game.

Indiana (23-7, 10-7) was better on the glass, better on defense
and just plain tougher when it mattered most.

”We didn’t defend them, we didn’t rebound, we didn’t execute,”
Izzo said after losing for the first time in seven games to Tom
Crean, his former assistant. ”We missed some good shots, I have no
problem with that. … I think Indiana deserves a lot of credit for
putting us in that position. They did a great job of moving the
ball and just driving at us, and we didn’t respond very well.”

Instead, Indiana added another milestone victory to a growing
list of accomplishments.

The Hoosiers had already become the first Big Ten school to
upset the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the same season since
1952-53.

They had already given Crean his first 20-win season since
leaving Marquette four years ago.

Last week, Indiana completed its first undefeated nonconference
season since 1989-90.

And now they are the first Indiana team to beat three top five
teams in the regular season since they started keeping records in
1948-49.

Indiana and Kansas are the only schools to beat three top five
teams this season.

The Jayhawks beat No. 2 Ohio State in December, No. 3 Baylor in
January and No. 3 Missouri on Saturday. Indiana beat No. 1 Kentucky
and No. 2 Ohio State in December and added Michigan State to the
list.

But the Hoosiers insists there’s still a lot of work to do.

”When we beat top teams like that we’re nasty, we’re scrappy,
we’re fighting,” said senior Verdell Jones, who had 12 points.
”But we haven’t accomplished anything yet.”

Indiana’s steady progression has put it in line to make its
first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. First, though, the
Hoosiers must still play archrival Purdue on Sunday and the Big Ten
tournament in Indianapolis before they can worry about ending the
postseason drought.

They sure played like they got the message Tuesday, never giving
the Spartans much hope.

From the early moments, Indiana continually drove to the basket,
drew fouls and made free throws, taking advantage with an early
12-2 run that made it 18-8.

After calling time out, Izzo, who had been shaking his head in
disbelief, finally saw the Spartans warm up. Austin Thornton
finished a fastbreak with a layup, then popped outside and hit a
3-pointer to make it 18-13.

But every time Michigan State got close, Indiana answered.

Green’s first 3 got the Spartans within 24-20.

Watford answered with a 3 to start 12-5 run that allowed Indiana
to take a 41-27 halftime lead. It was the most points Michigan
State surrendered in a first half all season.

”They played well, they deserved to win,” Izzo said.

Michigan State got close again early in the second half when
Green scored six points in a 10-0 run to make it 43-37 with 15:47
left.

But Indiana scored straight points and four more in a row after
Green hit another 3 to make it 51-40. Michigan State never got
closer than six points again.

”Our team responded,” Crean said. ”As we kept saying today,
it’s not hit or be hit, it’s hit or be out. This is a game where
you have to be in the mix because they set the standard for our
league and the country in terms of toughness. Our guys matched it
and I’m very, very proud of them.”